List of all U-boats

U-66

Type

IXC

 
Ordered7 Aug 1939
Laid down20 Mar 1940 AG Weser, Bremen (werk 985)
Launched10 Oct 1940
Commissioned2 Jan 1941Kptlt. Richard Zapp (Knights Cross)
Commanders
2 Jan 1941 - 21 Jun 1942  KrvKpt. Richard Zapp (Knights Cross)
22 Jun 1942 - 1 Sep 1943  Kptlt. Friedrich Markworth (Knights Cross)
6 Aug 1943 - 1 Sep 1943  Oblt. (R) Paul Frerks
2 Sep 1943 - 6 May 1944  Oblt. Gerhard Seehausen
Career
10 patrols
2 Jan 1941-30 Apr 1941  2. Flottille (training)
1 May 1941-6 May 1944  2. Flottille (active service)
Successes33 ships sunk, total tonnage 200,021 GRT
2 ships damaged, total tonnage 22,674 GRT
2 warships damaged, total tonnage 64 tons
Fate

Sunk 6 May, 1944 west of the Cape Verde Islands, in position 17.17N, 32.29W, by depth charges, ramming and gunfire from Avenger and Wildcat aircraft of the US escort carrier USS Block Island and by the destroyer escort USS Buckley. 24 dead and 36 survivors.

Loss position

See the 37 ships hit by U-66 - View the 10 war patrols

* U-66 was on her 10th Patrol when she was attacked on 3 Aug, 1943 by aircraft from the US escort carrier USS Card. The II WO was killed and the Commander, the I WO and 7 other men were wounded. On 7 Aug, 1943 they met the oil supply U-boat U-117 and the WO Oblt. Frerks from that boat took over the command. Immediately afterwards the U-117 was sunk with all hands, U-66 was still along its side at the time of the attack but managed to escape.

U-66 brought no luck to the supply-boats. On the night from 25th to 26th Apr, 1944 they were planning to be supplied from U-488, but the Milch Cow was sunk during that night, 4 days before U-66 herself was also sunk.

U-66 was hunted by aircraft and surface escorts of the escort carrier USS Block Island from May 1. Several attacks were made, including 3 Fido homing torpedoes that were dropped on the boat. Finally on the morning of the 6th U-66 was seen by the destroyer escort USS Buckley. After exchange of gunfire the escort rammed the boat at 0329 and many Germans climbed on the escort's forecastle. The Americans believed they were being boarded as some Germans carried small arms and a small brawl ensued. The escort backed away from the U-boat leaving 5 armed Germans on the escort who were promptly subdued and taken below. The U-boat started to draw ahead but then turned and hit the escort near its engine room and for the second time the boat was raked with gunfire. The boat then finally sank after a final salvo from the escort's 3in gun after one of the longest fights in the war.

Wolfpack operations

U-66 operated with the following Wolfpacks during its career:
   West (24 May 1941 - 5 Jun 1941)
   Rochen (27 Jan 1943 - 1 Mar 1943)
   Tümmler (1 Mar 1943 - 17 Mar 1943)
   Without name (5 May 1943 - 10 May 1943)

Attacks on this boat and other events

10 Nov 1942
20.50 hrs, outbound, Bay of Biscay: after diving following warning of incoming radar signals from the FuMB, a leak through a ventilation valve that was was left open caused a fire in one of the control panels, and U-66 was forced to surface due to chlorine gas when the water reached a battery. At 21.20 hrs, a Wellington Mk.VIII (RAF Sqdn 172/D, pilot F/O D.E. Dixon, RAF) located her on ASV radar and attacked from the port quarter after illuminating the U-boat with the Leigh Light, dropping four 250lb depth charges across the bow and firing 100 rounds from the tail guns. U-66 claimed several AA hits, but the rounds were observed to detonate above the aircraft by its crew. They also observed the U-boat stop for 15 minutes after describing a half circle close to marker flares dropped in the attack. The explosions had lifted U-66 over a metre out of the water, unseating an air compressor and disabling the port electric motor and the rudder. The aircraft had no depth charges left and could only circle the boat until forced to return to base at 23.22 hrs. The severe damage forced the U-boat to abandon the patrol, reaching Lorient the next day under escort from Ju88 long range fighters and armed trawlers. (Sources: KTB U-66, ADM 199/1783)

3 Aug 1943
At 21.35 hours, the boat was surprised by a Avenger/Wildcat team (VC-1 USN) from USS Card in the Central Atlantic. The aircraft made several strafing runs and one depth charge apparently exploded directly under the boat. The II.WO Oblt Kurt Schütze and Mtrgfr Erich Lorenz were killed and MechGfr Heinz Nitsch died of wounds during the night. The commander and FzS Pfaff were seriously and the I.WO and five ratings were slightly wounded. U-117 was ordered to meet U-66 three days later for medical assistance und to transfer a WO as replacement. (Sources: Ritschel)

21 Mar 1944
British patrol boats attacked U-66 after she sank the British tanker Matadian. The boat bottomed out on the muddy seabed before escaping. (Sources: Blair, vol 2, page 546)

3 recorded attacks on this boat.

General notes on this boat

U-66 was one of the five boats that started Operation Drumbeat in Jan, 1942.

20 Jan 1943. On 20 January 1943 this boat landed espionage agent Jean Lallart on the coast of Mauritania near Cape Blanc. Lallart and the two men who rowed him ashore (Bootsmaat Wagner and Matrosenobergefreiter Daschkey) were immediately captured by the French. After waiting in vain for over 13 hours for his men to return, Kptlt. Markworth was forced to abandon them to whatever fate they had suffered. He learned of the their capture ten days later.

Men lost from the boat

3 Aug 1943
At 21.35 hours, the boat was surprised by a Avenger/Wildcat team (VC-1 USN) from USS Card in the Central Atlantic. The aircraft made several strafing runs and one depth charge apparently exploded directly under the boat. The II.WO Oblt Kurt Schütze and Mtrgfr Erich Lorenz were killed and MechGfr Heinz Nitsch died of wounds during the night. The commander and FzS Pfaff were seriously and the I.WO and five ratings were slightly wounded. U-117 was ordered to meet U-66 three days later for medical assistance und to transfer a WO as replacement.

  Related: For more info on such losses see - Men lost from U-boats -

U-boat Emblems

We have 2 emblem entries for this boat. See the emblem page for this boat or view emblems individually below.


White spade

Growling Lion's head inside Circle

Media links


U-Boat Attack Logs

Daniel Morgan and Bruce Taylor


U-Boats at War

Showell, Jak P. Mallmann


Battle Beneath the Waves

Stern, Robert C.


U-Boat Operations of the Second World War - Vol 1

Wynn, Kenneth


German U-Boat Losses During World War II

Niestle, Axel


Hitler's U-boat War, Vol II

Blair, Clay


Hitler's U-boat War

Blair, Clay


In Peril On The Sea

Bell, R.W. and Lockerbie, D.Bruce

There was another U-66 in World War One
That boat was launched from its shipyard on 22 Apr 1915 and commissioned into the Imperial Navy on 23 Jul 1915. The Naval war in WWI was brought to an end with the Armistice signed on 11 Nov, 1918. Read about the U 66 during WWI.